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Human spirit is a component of human philosophy, psychology and religion - the spiritual or mental part of humanity. While the term can be used with the same meaning as "human soul" , human spirit is sometimes used to refer to the impersonal, universal or higher component of human nature in contrast to soul or psyche which can refer to the ego or lower element.

In the models of Daniel A. Helminiak and Bernard Lonergan, human spirit is considered to be the mental functions of awareness, insight, understanding, judgement and other reasoning powers. It is distinguished from the separate component of psyche which comprises the entities of emotion, images, memory and personality.[1]

John Teske views human spirit as a social construct representing the qualities of purpose and meaning which transcend the individual human. Modern science has explained the individual in a mechanistic way but has not provided a satisfactory goal or rationale for existence.Template:Lopsided These then arise as social constructs based upon our neuropsychology and evolutionary history.[2]

Distinction between the human spirit and soul

According to historian Oswald Spengler, a distinction between Spirit and Soul has been made by the West and earlier civilisations which influenced its development.[3] The human spirit can be seen as the heavenly component of human's non material makeup - the part that is impersonal or universal. Whereas souls are the personal element unique to each individual. As Spengler writes in The Decline of the West:

... more important than all this is the opposition of Spirit and Soul (Hebrew: ruach and nephesh, Persian: ahu and urvan, Mandasan: monuhmed and gyan, Greek: pneuma and psyche) which first comes out in the basic feeling of the prophetic religions, then pervades the whole of Apocalyptic, and finally forms and guides the world-contemplations of the awakened Culture - as seen with Philo, Paul and Plotinus, Gnostics and Mandeans, Augustine and the Avesta, Islam and the Kabbalah. Ruach means originally "wind" and nephesh "breath." The nephesh is always in one way or another related to the bodily and earthly, to the below, the evil, the darkness. Its effort is the "upward." The ruach belongs to the divine, to the above, to the light. Its effects in man when it descends are the heroism of a Samson, the holy wrath of an Elijah, the enlightenment of the judge (e.g. Solomon passing judgment) and all kinds of divination and ecstasy. It is poured out. As in Isaiah xi, x, the Messiah becomes the incarnation of the ruach.[3]

In Christianity, the Holy Bible identifies humanity's three basic elements: body, soul and spirit.[4] Christians sometimes emphasise that the human spirit is not really unique to humanity, rather it is something that humans participate in, for it is the same as the Holy Spirit, which the Christian becomes united with once they accept Christ as their saviour.[5][6] In Islam, Muslims are viewed as having their own spirits, but one that in a sense is one with God's spirit. For Spengler, the perception of unity this idea led to was important for the emergence of the "consensus" that maintained harmony in Islamic culture, epecially during the Golden Age of Islam.[3]



  1. Daniel A. Helminiak (1996), The human core of spirituality: mind as psyche and spirit, ISBN 9780791429501, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DL9hwUBJm18C
  2. John Teske (2000), "The Social Construction of the Human Spirit", The human person in science and theology, ISBN 9780567086921, http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6i5ynN9qX30C&oi=fnd&pg=PA189
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Spengler, Oswald (1922). "vol2, chpt: 3 & 8". The Decline of the west(An abridged edition). ISBN 1400097002.
  4. 1 Thes 5:23
  5. 1 Cor 6:17
  6. Andrew Wommack. "Understanding Spirit, Soul, And Body". Andrew Wommack Ministires. http://www.awmi.net/extra/article/spirit_soul. Retrieved 2010-01-21.

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